Dental sedation is perfectly safe for children. Here’s how it works, along with some details about the safety precautions parents should take to make the process go more smoothly.
Why is my dentist recommending sedation for my child?
Often, dentists will recommend sedation for children if they're going to undergo long, complex procedures, if they're extremely young, or if they're especially nervous about visiting the dentist.
In addition, dental sedation can be beneficial for children with special needs, since it can help them to get the dental treatment they need, treatment that might otherwise be overly stressful or even impossible.
Types of Dental Sedation for Children
The primary types of sedation most commonly used for children are the same as those used for adults: oral sedation, nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation.
Oral sedation is taken by orally or through the nose when the patient first arrives for the appointment. The medicine generally takes up to 20 minutes to take effect. Oral sedation won't make patients fall asleep, it just helps them to relax and feel calm.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, can help children to remain calm during dental treatment. It's delivered via a mask, and within a few minutes, the patient begins to feel relaxed and experience euphoric feelings. At the end of the procedure, pure oxygen will be administered to the patient in order to clear out any remaining nitrous oxide.
Intravenous sedation is delivered via a needle. Nitrous oxide will be used to put the child to sleep before a needle is inserted, into a vein usually on the back of the hand. If required, a tube is also inserted into the patient's throat to aid breathing.
Safety Precautions for Children’s Dental Sedation
Children whose parents understand the procedure and prepare the child ahead of time tend to tolerate dental sedation best.
Your Surrey dentists at Guildford Smiles Dentistry will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare your child ahead of the appointment, and will be happy to answer all your questions.
Instructions will include things like when your child should stop eating ahead of the appointment, and what type of clothing should be worn for the appointment.
You will also be asked to provide a full medical history for your child. It is important to tell the dentist if your child is taking any prescriptions, over-the-counter medication or herbal supplements.
Ensuring patients' safety is paramount for our Surrey dentists during dental sedation. Throughout the procedure, your child's blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate and temperature will be closely monitored.
Two adults should accompany the child or teen home following the appointment — one to drive, and the other to monitor their breathing. Since some of the longer-lasting aftereffects of sedation include loss of physical coordination, sleepiness, dizziness, and nausea, going back to school or daycare on the day of the appointment is definitely not an option.
For the first few hours following the procedure, parents should give the child only soft foods. When the mouth has healed, the child may continue caring for his/her teeth as normal.